I recently met John, a trim, silver-haired, energetic man in his mid-sixties who was a guest at our church. In my remarks at our evening service for the community, I shared some of the ideas I had gained after attending a lifestyle medicine conference.
John introduced himself to me afterwards and offered his story. We both feel our meeting wasn’t a coincidence.
A few years ago John was a self-described chocolate and Mountain Dew addict, ate the “American” diet of meat and potatoes, and was 70 pounds overweight. He often felt tired and had no energy. His doctor diagnosed him with diabetes and said he would have to take medication for the rest of his life, progressively requiring more pills as the years went by. John followed his doctor’s orders for a year and he got a little better, but when his health took a turn for the worse, his doctor told him he should expect more of that.
Health experts often point out the connection between diabetes and obesity. In the Metrowest Boston area where I live recent reports found that “18.1 percent of adults are considered obese, more than 76 percent of the region’s adults aren’t eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day, and more than 16 percent aren’t getting enough regular exercise” (Community Health Assessment, Metrowest Daily News).
In my remarks during our church service, I shared how I’d learned that many doctors and their patients are finding that diseases, such as diabetes, can be reversed by changes in lifestyle. I also pointed out that I felt encouraged that more health professionals are acknowledging the necessity of mental changes, not just physical ones. This makes sense because behind each physical change–whether it’s a change in the food one eats or daily exercise–is a thought. We all know that diets don’t work unless they substantially change poor habits for better ones. So behind each “lifestyle” change is a commitment to do something good, to bring balance, restraint, order, etc. to one’s life. Continue reading